By the middle of 1943, regular Allied bomber raids had greatly undermined the German military industry. Air defense guns could not fire above 11 kilometers, and Luftwaffe fighters could not fight the armada of American "air fortresses." And then the German command recalled von Braun’s project - a guided anti-aircraft missile.
The Luftwaffe offered von Braun to continue developing a project called Wasserfall. “Rocket Baron” did just that - created a smaller copy of the Fow-2.
The world's first controlled anti-aircraft missile Wasserfall.
The jet engine worked on fuel, which was displaced from the tanks with a nitrogen mixture. The mass of the missile is 4 tons, the height of target destruction is 18 km, the range is 25 km, the flight speed is 900 km / h, the warhead contained 90 kg of explosives.
The rocket was launched vertically upwards from a special launcher, similar to the V-2. After the launch, the operator was aiming at the Wasserfal target using radio commands.
Experiments were also carried out with an infrared fuse that would explode a warhead when approaching an enemy aircraft.
At the beginning of 1944, German engineers tested a revolutionary radio beam guidance system on the Wasserfall rocket. The radar at the control point of the air defense system “illuminated the target,” after which the anti-aircraft missile was launched. In flight, its equipment controlled the rudders, and the rocket flew over the radio beam to the target. Despite the prospects of this method, the German engineers did not manage to achieve reliable operation of the automation.
As a result of the experiments, the designers of “Vaserval” opted for a two-blocking guidance system. The first radar marked the enemy aircraft, the second anti-aircraft missile. The guidance operator saw two marks on the display, which he sought to combine with the control knobs. The teams were processed and transmitted by radio to the rocket. The transmitter Wasserfall, having received the command, controlled the rudders through the servos - and the rocket changed course.
In March 1945, missile tests were carried out at which Wasserfall reached a speed of 780 km / h and an altitude of 16 km. Wasserfall successfully passed the tests and could take part in repelling the allied raids aviation. But there were no plants where it was possible to deploy mass production, as well as rocket fuel. Until the end of the war was a month and a half.
German project of a portable anti-aircraft complex
After the capitulation of Germany, the USSR and the USA took out several samples of anti-aircraft missiles, as well as valuable documentation.
In the Soviet Union, Wasserfal, after some refinement, received the P-101 index. After a series of tests that revealed weaknesses in the manual guidance system, it was decided to stop upgrading the captured missile. American designers came to the same conclusions; the A-1 Hermes rocket project (based on Wasserfall) was closed in 1947 year.
It is also worth noting that from 1943 to 1945 years, German designers developed and tested four more models of guided missiles: Hs-117 Schmetterling, Enzian, Feuerlilie, Rheintochter. Many technical and innovative technological solutions found by German designers were embodied in post-war developments in the USA, the USSR and other countries over the next twenty years.
This is interesting: along with the development of guided missile systems, German designers have created air-to-air guided missiles, guided air bombs, guided anti-ship missiles, anti-tank guided missiles. In 1945, German drawings and prototypes came to the Allies. All kinds of rocket weapons, entered service with the USSR, France, USA and England in the postwar years, had German "roots".